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Third Eye Blind’s “Non-Dairy Creamer” as Powdery and Insubstantial as the Title Suggests

September 27, 2009

It’s not often I write about music, mostly because I am considered to have appalling musical taste.  To demonstrate:  I honestly believe, and would not retract even on the rack, that Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” and Dio’s “Rainbow In The Dark” are the two most awesome songs ever.  Also, if I like a song or a CD, it will stay in my player for months.  I have no problem letting it cycle continuously, or listening to the same song several times in a row.

However, although I enjoy lots of awful tunes, I am fully aware they are awful.  I can distinguish between good and bad.  So when even I think a song is bad, it’s usually really, really crappy.  With this in mind I ask you to join me in dissecting “Non-Dairy Creamer” by Third Eye Blind (3eb hereafter), from the Red Star EP released last November.  A little late, but a friend sent me a link to the lyrics, which led to the actual song on YouTube, which led to the conclusion that the public must be made aware of this so we can avoid similar mistakes in the future.

The first lyric slams Kentucky Fried Chicken (3eb is lucky: if it had been Taco Bell, I’d have had to cock my Glock and get my shit on swole): “They call it KFC Cause it’s not really chicken.”  Actually, it is chicken.  Maybe 3eb is commenting on the food quality, or the poor treatment of non-free-range chickens, or the differing reasons offered for KFC’s name change (initials instead of the full spelling).  These are not the words you would use to do that, though, because KFC still uses real chicken in its chicken.  In fact, KFC loves chicken so much it will substitute chicken for bread.  The next line denounces schools offering Hot Cheetos for breakfast, which can’t really be considered a courageous stand.  After that: “Do you ever think someone’s tricking you?”  No, because it’s pretty common knowledge that fried chicken and junk food with 57 ingredients aren’t good for you.

Then the song really gets down to business, talking about religious bigotry, school shootings, and the trivialization of the Iraq War.  Problem is, this happens in four lines–surface treatment with no depth or emotion.  One stanza calls out both the hyper-sexualization of the American woman AND our color-coded Terrorism Threat ladder.  (The level is orange and someone has a “chest puffed out”—emphasis mine.  Sounds to me like 3eb is harboring a closet Cheeto-sympathizer.)

What really bugs me, though, and it probably shouldn’t, is the chorus:

“What’s it gonna be?
Are you real to me?
Or are you non-dairy creamer?”

How the hell does the listener know if someone is real to the singer?  That’s a decision the singer has to make.  That would be like me eating a KFC Famous Mashed Potato Bowl and then asking a friend if I liked it or not.  In my case, my friend would say, “Matt, you consumed it in less than 60 seconds, and you also ate the bowl.”  So the answer would be yes, I liked it.  I do not know the answer to Stephan Jenkins’ question.  Apparently, neither does he.

Throw in gay marriage, “Mission Accomplished,” repeats of the terrible-metaphor-for-artificiality chorus, and presto!  3eb has a song packed chock-full of o’ weighty social topics.  I’m a little surprised they didn’t mention developing-country micro-finance or cellulosic ethanol.  Maybe that’ll be on their proposed new single “High Fructose Corn-Syrup Soul.”

I guess I shouldn’t criticize a pop band for trying to make a statement about society’s shortcomings and bad habits.  It’s just that Green Day, Pearl Jam, and a zillion other socially-conscious bands do it way better.  “Non-Dairy Creamer” sounds instead like a band clutching at fading stardom, making an attempt at social relevance with hurriedly-assembled lyrics gathered by googling “progressive causes.”  But hey, if the song makes one mallrat change to Starbucks’ Fair Trade coffee, perhaps Third Eye Blind has done something.  While we decide, I’ll be rocking out to Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl” in my car.

  1. May 15, 2011 5:41 pm

    its a f*cking song. dont shist ur pants over it

    • Matt Shorr permalink*
      May 20, 2011 12:48 pm

      It was a close call, but I am happy to report that my pants remain unshisted. Thank you for your concern and comments. Please visit again soon.


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